Exploring thought of “we want to be one with everyone”

The anxiety of being the smallest of minorities, at 160 in Ahmedabad post 2002. The gradual westward migration of the community in the city. The yearning for the promised land. This and other sanapshots from the life of the Bene Israel Jews of Ahmedabad can be read in ‘Shalom India Housing Society’?, Esther David’s latest book that was released on Sunday.

Speaking on the occasion, Esther said: “Shalom means peace in Hebrew.The title of the book is the name of the housing society where all the characters of the book live in.”

The protangnist of the novel is Prophet Elijah who is believed to visit Jewish homes during the passover period and a goblet of wine is kept aside for him. Passover signifies the crossing over of the seas and is also a metaphor for freedom from slavery.

Said Esther: “My Elijah is a playful prophet. For Indian Jews, he has always been like this unlike in the West where he is very reserved and somber.”

Through the prohet’s journey into the various homes of the ‘Shalom India Housing Society’ the characters of the story are introduced and the various sub plots unfold.

Esther says, “I was once at a fancy dress competition for Jews where I saw many dressed like Gujaratis and Marwaris. I saw a sense of transformation that they were seeking and explored it in the book. We have biblical names and Maharashtrian surnames and we want to be one with everyone and still be Bene Jews. The book explores this thought.”

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